Renowned chimp expert Dr. Jane Goodall has demanded that NBC chief Jeff Zucker immediately stop using BamBam (Precious) in any of Passions' storylines.
According to Goodall, who was alerted to Bam Bam's presence on the soap by PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), orangutan's often suffer "horrendous" abuse at the hands of their trainers. BamBam debuted as Precious on June 27th.
In a letter to Zucker, Goodall explains, "When orangutans reach puberty, they become more difficult to handle. To make them manageable, trainers may have the orangutans' teeth pulled or may fit them with shock collars under their clothes.
Goodall also states that some orangutans are often beaten when they misbehave. Goodall urges that television and film refrain from using the animals.
"The use of orangutans for entertainment is so at odds with the individual's normal life and habits. . . Despite outward appearances that may seem to indicate otherwise, these trained performers suffer greatly for our amusement."
Goodall is not the only one trying to convince NBC to cut Precious from the script. Dr. Rgoer Fouts, an animal behavior specialist at Central Washington University, has joined the crusade.
Fouts says "many great apes used in television shows and films are destined for deplorable roadside zoos, medical experiments or euthansia."
"Passions" is known for its far-out storylines - including one in which Precious fantasized about the soap's resident hunk and one involving a magical doll (played by a real little person) who came to life.
"I hope you'll join the growing number of businesses that refuse to sanction or participate in this gross misuse of creatures who are vulnerable to our exploitation precisely because they are so like us," Goodall wrote Zucker.
NBC executives take issue with the implication that BamBam's handlers are mistreating hi,
"The Passions production personnel unanimously treats Bam Bam - the 4-year-old orangutan who currently appears on the daytime drama - with the utmost care and tenderness, far exceeding compliance with current humane laws and mandated regulations," states a network spokesperson. "Bam Bam has become a welcome and embraced member of the 'Passions' family and likewise, has proven equally popular with viewers nationwide."